Making the Most of the Mentorship Economy

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It’s never been harder to establish a connected, collaborative company culture.

Business leaders are facing new workplace challenges over the past two years. Creative solutions are required to combat widespread turnover and increasingly disconnected workforces.

No leader can single handedly dictate whether their employees are engaged in their current role. It’s important to focus on what you can control. Community-driven mentorship is one of the avenues to keeping your employees happy and engaged while providing opportunities for career development.

43% of professionals say that access to mentoring plays a significant role in their decision to stay with an organization. It’s not just young professionals seeking opportunities. 87% of mentors and mentees gain confidence and feel empowered by their mentoring relationships.

Mentoring helps foster a sense of community in your organization, and proves particularly helpful for underrepresented talent. The best way to foster a culture of mentorship is to embrace the idea of the mentorship economy: a concept that changes the way we traditionally think about mentoring, and adapts practices to meet the demands of a hybrid work world. 

What is the Mentorship Economy?

The word “economy” often evokes thoughts of an exchange of finite resources: money for goods or services, in many cases.

The mentorship economy operates a little differently. It provides an essential exchange of experiences within a community to help everyone advance their careers and grow their skill sets. Within the mentorship economy, mentors and mentees engage in reciprocal, mutually-beneficial relationships by sharing lived experiences – we like to think of this as career currency. Young professionals and established colleagues can connect for opportunities, learn new skills, analyze expert advice, and develop leadership qualities. 

The effects of a vibrant mentorship economy go beyond improving the individuals directly involved in the mentoring activities. A community or workplace will feel the lasting impact as mentors and mentees branch out and share their knowledge and experiences with others.

This makes the economy especially crucial for underrepresented professionals: those that have typically been marginalized from certain career paths or deterred from workplace milestones. The mentorship economy can help ensure equity of opportunity for all segments of the population, including Black and Latinx communities.

Experience is career currency

The best part of the mentorship economy is that the fundamental resource, experience, isn’t a finite item. If Amazon is sold out of air fryers, you have to wait until more are manufactured. On the other hand, it’s entirely free to share experiences, and that experience doesn’t lose value if it’s shared with one person or an audience of eight billion.

Mentorship relationships shouldn’t be based on reading or receiving instruction. Conversations centered around personal experience drive personal growth for mentees, and help increase emotional intelligence for mentors.

The Learning Pyramid theory suggests that humans retain just 5% of what we hear in a lecture, and 10% of what we read. Those numbers are miniscule compared to our retention when participating in a discussion (50%), practicing doing something (75%), or teaching others how to do something (90%).

Active engagement is key. Sharing experiences sparks a personal connection and leads to discussions that promote learning and development.

Powering career advancement with Mentor Spaces

Ensuring an environment that promotes conversations and exchanges of experience is key to making the mentorship economy thrive in your organization.

The practice of mentorship has evolved beyond traditional top-down corporate mandates and activities driven by moral obligation. We’re past the point where mentoring means a superior meeting for a required monthly coffee chat with an underling.

Millennial and Gen Z employees have new and evolving preferences for workplace communication. Some prefer one-on-one conversations, while others would choose to watch a webinar. Busy remote employees might like to consume asynchronous content by commenting in a Reddit-style forum. Your organization should offer multiple avenues for conversations to make sure that all colleagues have access to mentorship opportunities.

Mentor Spaces is a community-driven mentorship platform designed to help companies scale DEI efforts while advancing the careers of underrepresented talent. Our platform facilitates career conversations between experts and early career professionals to build confidence and social capital.

With one-on-one video chat, large-scale webinars, and async conversation forums, Mentor Spaces enables companies to enhance their brand, engage colleagues, and mentor historically marginalized populations to cultivate diverse talent pipelines. Organizations benefit from up to a 30 percent increase in employee retention, a 50 percent decrease in time spent on admin and talent sourcing, and a significant increase in employee engagement.

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